Dorothy was born on 24 October 1895 in Chalvey, a village which is now a suburb of Slough in Berkshire. She was the eldest child of Walter George Ivall (1868-1953) and his wife Lily Mary Crabe Bartlett (1872-1915) who married on 1 January 1895 in St Mary’s, Slough. He was 26 and a school master. She was 23, the daughter of William Bartlett, a butler. They later had three other daughters Lily Victoria (1900-73), Margaret Olive (1902-59) and Katherine Mildred (1907-86). They also had two other children Mary (b1896) and Thomas (b1899) who died soon after birth. Electoral registers show that Walter lived at 6 Rose Cottages, Chalvey from 1897 to 1899.
The 1901 census shows Walter (aged 32, an assistant schoolmaster) living at 7 Castle View off Grove Road, Upton St Mary, Slough. Also listed at the address are his wife Lily Mary (22) and their daughters Dorothy (5) and Lily Victoria (5 months).
In 1911, Dorothy, aged 15, was living at 18 Robert Street, Grosvenor Square, London with three other single people. The census return shows them all as “Shop assistant, dairy”. Dorothy’s mother died of cancer in 1915, aged 43. Her father married Alice Cumber in 1921 and they had three children.
Dorothy married Frank de Betham Hart on 16 September 1918 in Hampstead. She was aged 22, he was 32. When Dorothy and Frank first met she was a cook in a wartime canteen and he was a chartered Electrical Engineer. She was an extremely good cook and a very lively personality. She had a very good (and pure) soprano voice, Frank was an accomplished baritone. Both were more or less dedicated to musicals popular in that period and particularly to the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. They had six children, four sons and two daughters.
Dorothy with one of her children
Lily, Dorothy’s sister, lived with the family. Lily was crippled – not badly and it transpired very late in life that her handicap was the result of a dislocated ankle during childhood. Medical advice was expensive in the Edwardian era and a schoolmaster’s salary did not run to a consultation. Lily became Dorothy’s helpmate and the children’s nursemaid. Dorothy did the housekeeping – i.e. shopping and cooking. Lily did everything else, for most of this employment at half a crown a week wages (plus ‘keep') !
Lily Victoria Ivall
Frank joined Tom Callenders Electrical and Cables Company, which later became B.I.C.C. (British Insulated Callenders Cable Company). Mostly he worked as a Field Engineer, particularly in Spain, France, Germany and Hungary, before becoming largely responsible for the construction of the National Grid System in the U.K. He was promoted to the Board of B.I.C.C. and made Managing Director of BICC’s construction company, until his retirement in the mid-1950s.
The 1939 register lists Frank de Betham Hart, a chartered electrical engineer, living at 116 South Hill Park, Hampstead with Dorothy and their eldest son. 116 South Hill Park received a direct hit plus 2 incendiary bombs during the war, severely damaging part of the property. Dorothy endured a period of alcoholism, partly as a result of the London Blitz, but had by the late 1950s cured herself by strength of will.
Frank became ill with a bowel complaint in early 1963. After a period of treatment in the Middlesex Hospital he was taken to convalesce in Upholland, near Wigan, where his daughter lived with her husband, the vicar. Unfortunately Frank had a relapse and died shortly afterwards in Wigan hospital of pneumonia on 13 August 1963 aged 76.
Dorothy suffered from diabetes. An unfortunate gift of a box of chocolates coincided with a temporary loss of will power. She scoffed the lot and suffered a stroke, from which she never recovered. She died a few weeks later in Hampstead Hospital on 10 March 1970 aged 74. Probate records give her home address as 116 South Hill Park, London NW3.